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Friday, August 31, 2012

Evolution Is Not Science

Last week, as I'm sure you've heard by now, children's TV show host Bill Nye 'The Science Guy' released the following video, entitled "Creationism Is Not Appropriate For Children":

The news media immediately jumped on it, and that's how I heard about it. Frankly, I was shocked at what I heard, not because I believe that God created the cosmos (although I do believe that), but that Bill Nye apparently has a few of his facts confused. He also clearly thinks that anyone who doesn't believe what he believes is an idiot.

Here are a few of the facts that Mr. Nye is getting wrong:
  1. "When you have a portion of the population that doesn't believe in that, it holds everybody back, really." How can he say this immediately after saying "I mean, we're the world's most advanced technological [country]... generally, the United States is where most of the innovation still happens"? Does he think that Americans never believed in creation until recently? Clearly it hasn't held us back yet. It could be argued, based on those two statements alone, that belief in evolution has held everybody else back.
  2. "Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. It's like, it's very much analogous to trying to do geology without believing in tectonic plates." How is evolution fundamental to understanding biology? Is he saying that if someone chooses not to believe that one species can, over time, bring forth a different species, that that person is not able to become a biologist or a physician? He might want to discuss that with the excellent Christian doctor who has kept me healthy for many years now.
  3. "Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don't believe in evolution." What's more simple than "I think someone made these complex living things in the world around me"? I suppose "Over the course of millions or billions of years, directed by forces which we cannot observe or repeat, counter to the observable fact that organized things in our world tend to deteriorate instead of becoming more organized, simple creatures suddenly appeared out of nowhere for no reason and then slowly became more complex creatures, guided by no intelligence at all" is much simpler.
  4. " are distant stars that are just like our star but they're at a different point in their lifecycle. The idea of deep time, of this billions of years, explains so much of the world around us. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent" Bill here seems to misunderstand something about believers in creation. Not every believer in creation believes in the "young Earth" hypothesis which says that although the universe seems very old, it actually is only something like 6,000 years old (or maybe some other figure, but you get the picture.) In fact, there is no reason that someone who believes that an intelligence created everything can't also believe that that intelligence created it billions of years ago. Young Earth is not the same topic as evolution, although they may often be part of the same arguments.

    This is the first time in the video, by the way, that Mr. Nye implies that people who do not believe in evolution are not very bright. More on that later.
  5. "And I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them. We need scientifically literate voters and taxpayers for the future. We need people that can—we need engineers that can build stuff, solve problems." Obviously, if you do not believe in evolution, you can not understand science, "build stuff" that requires understanding of engineering, or "solve problems." Hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers, astronauts, computer programmers, and generally very intelligent people who doubt evolution would beg to disagree.
  6. "You know, in another couple of centuries that world view, I'm sure, will be, it just won't exist. There's no evidence for it." On the contrary, in recent years the evidence against evolution has been mounting... in fact, if there is anything that lacks evidence, it is the argument that simpler creatures can and have managed to change themselves into more complicated creatures. Human beings cannot even force evolution to happen, and to our knowledge, we are the more complex and intellectual creatures on Earth. The best we can do is make creatures mutate, but we can't make a Spider Man or a Wolverine... usually the mutations we create result in the death of the mutant. Mutation does not make creatures better. It usually kills them. It certainly doesn't turn one species of animal into a different species. And if even the most complex species on the planet can't make it happen, how can a one-celled microbe make it happen?
The thing I find offensive about Bill Nye's video, though, is not his inaccuracies, but his arrogance. He leaves no room between "smart like me" and "crazy people who can't understand the world around them." He implies that science and evolution are one and the same, but that's just not the case. Evolution is not science. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines the Scientific method this way: "principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses." Did you notice how the scientific method involves observation and experiment? So far there has never been a bona-fide observed case of evolution. We haven't been able to turn cats into anything but cats, cows into anything but cows, daisies into anything but daisies, humans into anything but humans. Squirrels give birth to baby squirrels. Chicken eggs hatch and chickens come out. Evolution has as much scientific validity as Mary Shelley's story of Dr. Frankenstein giving life to an assembly of body parts by shooting them with lightning. Neither experiment, Frankenstein's Monster or Darwin's Evolution, has ever been repeated. Experimental results that are not independently repeatable are scientifically suspect.

And yet Bill Nye and others like him do exactly what they accuse creationists of doing: they shove their dogma down the throats of others. They pretend that something they cannot observe or make happen is a scientifically proven fact, and they call people names if they are disagreed with. I've even heard accounts of very qualified scientists suffering bullying within their professional circles for advancing ideas that exclude evolution. Some scientists who believe in creation actually remain "in the closet" because they fear that their career will suffer if they buck the party line on evolution. By using the word "crazy" to describe the views of creationists and by implying that they live in a dream world, Mr. Nye has shown that he has no respect for those who have views counter to his own. It's shocking that someone who aligns himself with the scientific establishment would show such disdain for the views of others.

Even if I believed in evolution, that's not the kind of attitude I want to teach to my children. Hopefully, the children of tomorrow will respect others' viewpoints, even if they disagree with them. Evolution or not, intellectual arrogance is definitely not appropriate for children.

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